National Tree Week

Longsight Park, Bolton, 6th December 2020

The Tree Council Logo

The Tree Council first established National Tree Week in March 1975 to support national replanting of trees after the outbreak of Dutch Elm disease. Each year over 250,000 people join in and plant trees across the country. National Tree Week is the UK’s largest tree celebration, annually launching the start of the winter planting season.

This year BCV has gotten involved with an event at Longsight Park, Bolton. Kids of all ages took part and planted over 300 trees in a neglected corner of the park. Using the tried and tested ‘T’ cut planting technique a mix of field maple, silver birch and sessile oak were planted along pre-prepared lanes. The trees were then protected using a first for us, cardboard tree shelters. The shelter seem a lot more durable that you’d expect and will protect the trees from grazing by deer and short-tailed field voles.

All photos were taken with parents’ permission. Family groups arrived at pre-arranged times to maintain social distancing and Tools were sanitised between uses. Thanks to T&C for organising and all the families for participating. Don’t forget to check Norman’s Christmas Cheer after viewing the photos, no captions this time, the photos speak for themselves. Happy Tree Week.

A Cut Above

Coppicing at Doffcocker Lodge, 8th November 2020

At the start of Lockdown 2.0 looked like BCV would be locking away the tools and hanging up our gloves for the duration but at the eleventh hour Bolton Council said we were good to go.. so we went. This time it was Doffcocker Lodge Local Nature Reserve, Bolton’s first, and for many years only LNR. The lodge was originally built to supply water for Bolton’s industry and made use of the site’s elevation and plentiful water supply from the numerous springs and streams running into the valley. Today it is a haven for bird life including kingfisher, reed bunting, willow tit, and an occasional stop over for bittern.

Doffcocker 2015
Doffcocker 2015

Our task today was harvesting osier stems from one of the 3 compartments on the northern shore. Coppicing, as it’s called is an age old woodland management technique that exploits our native trees’ ability to regrow after being damaged. Cutting these trees down causes them to regrow new shoots and stems which can be cut for firewood, charcoal making, or craft materials. In this case we’re coppicing a type of willow called osier to harvest stems for use in hurdle weaving projects at local schools. All of the willow that was cut will regrow and in doing so create habitat for birds and invertebrates. To prove it, we found a number of nests nestling between the willow stems.

Doffcocker Nest
Birds nest in willow coppice

So our super six set to work, only stopping to take a 2 minute break at 11 o’clock for Remembrance Day. In previous years our mass turnouts would have cleared the whole compartment in an afternoon but with our numbers limited to six we only managed to cut about two thirds- but we also created a dead hedge, harvested masses of stems, planted some sticks that should grow into more willow trees, and tidy up some rubbish. In three year’s time we can harvest here again. So, not just a win-win, but a win-win-win.

Incidentally, Doffcocker is derived from the site’s Celtic name meaning The Black Winding Stream. I bet you really wanted to know that, so now some photos.

Going Wild at Dunscar Woods

20th September 2020

Dunscar Wood is a new woodland near Egerton, Bolton. The wood occupies 5.7 hectares of what was formerly green fields which were bought by the Woodland Trust in 1998 as part of their millennial Woodlands on Your Doorstep project. Old maps do show a small patch of woods in the area but not of any great size or significance.

The Dunscar Wood Management plan says that in 1999 wood was planted with a mix of sessile oak, ash, birch, cherry, rowan, aspen, holly, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn and goat willow. Mature sycamore is also present and is thought to be a remnant of previous field boundaries. However, while we were working we noticed that most of the oak was pedunculate oak not sessile, as pedunculate is a low land species we were a bit bemused by its presence.

Pedunculate Oak

Birch

New woodlands such as this are often planted quite densely with new stock, with 2 to 3 metres between each tree. Although there is always some loss through animal grazing, disease such as ash die back, and climatic conditions, the trees take up more room as they grow and need to be thinned out. This is where BCV came in in October 2019 on our Halloween task.

The Woodland Trust are thinning trees, not just to reduce the herd, but to improve the structure of the woodland as part of the management plan for the site. One of the problems of planting lots of trees at once is the lack of age structure, hence the mix of long lived trees such as oak and short life-spanned species such as birch. The Trust envisages that over the next 80 years the short lived species will die off and provide standing deadwood and fallen logs which will benefit a range of bird and invertebrate species improving biodiversity in an area of Bolton with limited tree cover and species mix. Natural regeneration should make the new woodland self sustaining; gaps in the canopy will benefit woodland floor flora.

So, BCV are on the loose again in Dunscar Wood. This task was originally planned for February 2020 but was put back by storm something or other. Along comes Autumn and we had to abandon again for local lockdown, however, we are a group of volunteers doing necessary work on behalf of a charity we got to OK from the Woodland Trust and so could continue with the task at hand.

Prior to the task BCV submitted a full and comprehensive risk assessment and received permission from the Woodland Trust for the task to continue.

So, six socially distance volunteers, behaving responsibly and suitably sanitised, set about removing trees marked up by the Woodland Trust. The felling was done by our chainsaw team and each felled tree was cut up and stacked into habitat piles by one person each. The job went well so thanks to all concerned for doing great work.